Gem State Roundup

Idaho’s Wood River Museum of History and Culture to celebrate grand opening July 26

By: - July 24, 2023 4:20 am
Union Pacific railroad arrives at the Ketchum/Sun Valley station in 1939

The Union Pacific railroad arrives at the Ketchum/Sun Valley station in 1939. (Courtesy of the Jeanne Lane Moritz Collection and Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History)

A grand opening celebration will take place July 26 to launch a new interactive museum in Ketchum.

After two years of planning and preparation, the Community Library Association will host the opening celebration of the Wood River Museum of History and Culture from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at 580 Fourth St. E. in Ketchum, according to a press release from the association.

The free event will include refreshments and live music, including a performance from Grammy Award-winning flautist Hovia S. Edwards, who is Shoshone-Navajo-Okanogan.

“Our hope is for the museum to become a part of the heartbeat of the community, for it to be a place where everyone can feel a sense of belonging in and wonderment about central Idaho history,” said Community Library Association executive director Jenny Emery Davidson in the press release. “We want it to be a place of deep reflection and nuanced thinking.” 

Idaho Gov. Brad Little and first lady Teresa Little plan to tour the museum this month, said Carter Hedberg, the library association’s director of philanthropy, in the press release.

Ernest Hemingway and T. Otto “Toby” Bruce
Ernest Hemingway and T. Otto “Toby” Bruce in 1940.
(Courtesy of the Dorothy Boyle Collection and the Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History)

Exhibits at the museum will feature interactive elements where patrons can write, talk, type and share memories. For example, in the museum’s Ernest Hemingway exhibit, visitors can sit at a typewriter like the one that Hemingway used and try typing out their own works.

The museum will feature two dedicated galleries:  

  • The Tribal Room, at the entrance to the museum, honors the history and present-day of the Shoshone and Bannock Tribes, which have inhabited the lands of Central Idaho since time immemorial.  
  • The Cabinet of Wonders invites visitors to discover history by opening the doors and drawers of a fanciful cabinet that holds a variety of regional history artifacts – from a telegraph key to a wax cylinder phonograph and a beaver pelt. The artifacts in the cabinet, designed and built by local cabinetmaker and artist Paul Bates, will change periodically and offer new surprises for visitors.

The museum will also feature three exhibits that will change over time, according to the release. Visitors at the grand opening can explore these three offerings:

  • How in the World Did You Get to Sun Valley? This exhibit explores the many reasons and ways that people have come to this hard-to-reach area. 
  • Portrait of a Mountain. Over the past 150 years, the greater Ketchum and Sun Valley area has taken shape around, and been shaped by, the iconic Bald Mountain. This exhibit looks deeply at the mountain that defines the local landscape and affects life and imaginations in so many ways.  
  • A Writer in New Country: Hemingway in 1939. This exhibit examines who Hemingway was when he arrived in 1939: a writer at his peak, a globetrotter drawn to remote places, a rugged outdoor enthusiast, and a man with complicated personal relationships.  

The museum, which will typically be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, also includes a small gift shop with unique gifts that relate to the exhibits and regional history. 

“The richness and resilience of a community depends on its capacity to tend and tell its many stories,” Davidson said in the release. “That is the goal of The Community Library, and that is the goal of the Wood River Museum of History and Culture.” 

“History matters here,” she adds. “It is nuanced and ongoing, and we all are part of it.” 


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Christina Lords
Christina Lords

Christina Lords is the editor-in-chief of the Idaho Capital Sun and has been a professional journalist covering local and state government since graduating from the University of Idaho in 2009. A Pocatello native, Lords is a fifth-generation Idahoan who served as a reporter at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News and the Post Register in Idaho Falls and served as assistant editor for the Idaho Press in Nampa. She also led the Idaho Statesman in Boise for two years before turning to nonprofit journalism.